Distance talks – Olèna Simon (interview)

Fot. Hallur Karlsson

Most of us associate her voice with Asonat but we have to remember that Olèna Simon has successful solo album „Made in Hurt by Heart” from 2012. A month ago she released her an EP entitled „Squonk”. We had a great pleasure to talk with the artist.

Kasia: On  february 11 this year you release  an EP „Squonk”. I would like to start conversation on the title track. Is this a reference to the  mythical creature, which is ashamed of its appearance and it hides from people? Where did you read about the legend? Why did you want to sing about it?

Olèna: That’s right! I’m happy you are asking about it. I wanted to express the human incomprehension. I have a terrible reaction to the evil that the human gives and suffers from one of the other. I cry looking at the news. I feel so much hurt, it is so hard to concentrate on your life while all is happening all around. We are not supposed to evolve like this. This does not make any meaning. And figured, I am acting as this Imperfection, that really want the good to illuminate.

Family and History is the orientation of my next album and I was looking into the origin of langages. So obviously had to search latin and mythology. I searched according to my lyrics and found Squonk suited perfectly this feeling. It is actually present in scientific references. Now I hope You can figure out the gentle but ugly Squonk, that disappears from his tears  and always reborn from itself.

K: Let my imagination run wild. In the video directed by Katsunori Saito you are blurred, so that no one could look at you closely. You wanted to play squonk?

O: Somehow, yes. It is what I really like about music video. They can follow and give extras meaning, or be totally free of explanation. There is another version of the video that makes it more intimate by close shoot. Maybe my opinion was that it showed to much fragility and it became something more pure and sort of sexy by seeing my skin, tears and close up lips. It is not the image I wanted for the song. At first the project was to shoot in a cave in Iceland. I was supposed to be covered by moss, mud and rocks. I would Have loved to do that! But weather made it difficult to make it possible for us.

K: In your EP, we can find also three remixes. One concerns a well known song to us from the debut („My Heart Beats for You”) and two versions of the song „Lupus Ac Cerva”. Is this song next to „Squonk” will be on the upcoming full-length album? When can we expect the successor of „Made in Hurt by Heart” from 2012?

O: The remix of „My Heart Beats for You” by Jonas Thor  was performed around  and always very well appreciated of the public. In Japan a fan came to me asking where could he purchase the song. I promised him that I will make it happen for him. „Lupus Ac Cerva” Original version, will be on the next album. Remixes are only available on „Squonk” EP. I wish to have my 2nd album ready this year. I will make it up to my public for beeing so patient.

K: From beginning of the year you became a vloger. On one of the movies you are telling how creating a CD album looks like, how many people are working on this. You met with a lot of help and the generosity of people. Would you like to tell us about it?

O: Sure! My project came alive the way it looks because I have surrounded myself with generous people happy to be able to help anyhow. Until I can reward everyone for they talent, time and generosity, I thought to explain about, shortly, my debut album creation process. Some artist in my position are doing themselves so much when they are capable of doing it. You don’t need to have pictures, lyrics booklet or a special CD box. You can make it as costless as possible, but always your will need to spend the right money on most important as mixing and mastering. Then comes the material CD production cost.

For „Made in Hurt by Heart”, I mixed myself and payed a studio in New York for mastering. After this big step is finished, it’s about to release your music. I asked my friend in music distribution for contact factory that can do small amount of CD. The company give me they catalogue of they possibility but nothing was attracting me for this album. I had all ready the right packaging in my head. I had call my friend in Paris Gwladys Esnault, she was just building her graphic design company. I asked her the budget minimum for what I wanted to do and just offered me to do this work for me just regarding our friendship. As for the art work, my art school teacher Nathalie Talec who became a friend, had produced those water colors, I remembered her sending me  Portait bleu , water color (it is „Made in Hurt by Heart” art cover) I asked her if I could borrow it for my project, she send me the collection to choose from and said that it will be her contribution to my dream to come true.

I saw on the internet, really amazing cloth design by a Finnish designer based in Paris. The providence was that after research, this woman is a friend of two of my friends! My big sister was on her way to visit me. Matleena Venable the designer of Sokeria Kans, after contacting her, only asked to get the dresses back in perfect condition! So the beautiful dresses traveled with my sister. In Reykjavik one of my friend was taking photography as hobby. He had access to a studio, Úlfur Kristjánsson took pictures and Gjóni Helgasson give me a free hair cut salon time as supporter. All was possible then, only for me to finance the material CD and sign contract with the factory.

„Made in Hurt by Heart”

K: While I was watching your vlog I noticed that you attracts a lot of attention to detail, the visual appearance of the CD, its interior. What do you like most in the process of creating the album?

O: I like everything about producing an album. This was my dream, it is why I wanted to do it all for real. I could have it very simple but the album name is  „Made in Hurt by Heart” – a collection of  juvenile moment of my life – to me, it had to be a sort of precious box. Like when you have a secret box you hand made yourself. My education is from art school and you learn to explain everything & to not let big part to hasard. You create your chance. For me it had to be consistency.

K: Besides talking about music on vlog, you are also showing  your life in Reykjavik. Where did you get this idea of sharing your point of view as a foreigner in Iceland?

O: I went to Japan last year for few month, I started to look up to those video on Youtube , what to do, what to not do, what to eat, how to eat, where to go in Japan. Back in Iceland I wanted to have more information about the life there as a foreigner. I thought that maybe some people would like to know a little bit more about a regular life in Iceland in the moving perspective. I’m only starting this Vlog & in future I would like to talk about anything, were to go learn Icelandic in Iceland, what are your rights as worker, if some situation comes up, were to find help…


K: In addition to your solo project you are also part of Asonat. I read on your FB that you are working on a new album! Personally, I loved your contribution in the band. Is there a chance to set aside the curtain on the new material?

O: We can say it’s more experimental oriented but we did not fix any limit yet. We are in exploring step. Stay tuned!

K: If you could choose a place to play a concert, where would it be?

O: Anywhere would make me happy, I really loved Japan and wish to go back there. I went there because I am fascinated by Japanese culture, but as well cause I had good feedback from Fans there. I knew I will meet my public. But I seriously love to travel & to meet cultures I don’t know. Traveling is a luxury, if my life could be it ,for living, I be the happiest.

K: What kind of music do you listen to when you do not take care of your projects? Would you like to share with our readers what artists recently you discovered?

O: Probably not very original, I have fascination for Aphex twin, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Roisin Murphy or Marilyn Monroe for exemple. I am very difficult and I listen to this large selection of the rich Icelandic scene. Albums that does not take dust at home are  Jóhann Jóhannsson, M-Band, Tonik Ensemble and Ruxpin. Otherwise having a playlist of my favorite songs of the moment is more likely. This way I have a better variety. Last years I’ve been surprised by Christine and the queens and Télépherik, true breathing in the French music industry. Stromae  and Thot in Belgium. And I discovered De De Mouse, Little Moa, Serph & Miiiia from Japan. I am hooked!

K: Thank you for the interview and in the name of the entire crew of muzykaislandzka.pl we are looking forward to see you in Poland!

O: Thanks for having me and lets wish all together that I can come to play in your country!

 You can find Olèna on:
Facebook, Bandcamp, Spotify, Vlog, YouTube

Listen to playlist prepared specially for us by Olèna!


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